The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

When in Rome: 8½ ways to integrate with the Italians

Posted on December 9, 2015 by

Italy

We’ve already looked at how best to fit in with the Spanish and the French — now we turn our attention to the Italians. Want to visit the bel paese without faux pas or fashion crimes? Read on.

 

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Potrait: Cecilia — a multilingual story between Italy and Argentina

Posted on December 2, 2015 by

Portrait

Presenting the latest chapter of our Babbel user portraits — a snapshot of users’ lives and experiences learning a new language. If you want to share your own story, let us know in the comments section below. Today we introduce you to Cecilia from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a woman with a great passion for languages. At the age of 35, Cecilia has already learned nine languages in addition to her mother tongue of Spanish. Among the languages she has mastered is Italian, a language she feels very comfortable speaking (and also the language in which this interview was conducted). Here she explains why.

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How I raise my child bilingual

Posted on August 26, 2015 by

bilingual

My name is Mara. I’m from Italy and, like many people that work at Babbel (and live in Berlin), I have a child with someone from another country. In this case, with a German. What can I do to make sure my child learns Italian well? What resources are available to me? Here you’ll find out what I’ve discovered.

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Portrait: Eckart & Vincenzo – A German-Italian Love Story

Posted on June 30, 2015 by

Portrait

New from the Babbel User Portraits Series – snapshots of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story with us, leave a comment. This time, we’re learning about Eckart and Vincenzo’s German-Italian love story.

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Portrait: Gianni Guaita – Almost 100 Years Old, Reveling in Memories and Talking About His Experiences with Babbel

Posted on June 4, 2015 by

Portrait

Today we’re presenting another installment of our Babbel User Portraits – snapshots of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story with us, leave a comment. This time, we’re introducing you to a very special user: Gianni from Florence is a writer with an extraordinary family history who, at almost 100 years old, complains only about one thing: some Babbel lessons are too long for him!

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User portrait: Lenel, learns three languages with Babbel

Posted on May 26, 2015 by

user portrait

This is the latest in our series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives and the reasons they are learning a new language. If you want to share your story with us, please leave a comment.

This month, we interviewed Lenel who lives Galway in Ireland, but is originally from the Philippines. Alongside his job in a fast-food restaurant, the 24-year-old is also a blogger. Using bucketlist250.com, he created a “bucket list” of things he wants to achieve during his lifetime. Over a year ago, he began a new challenge – learning Spanish, Italian and French. Lenel decided to accomplish his goal with Babbel, and wrote about the experience in his blog. In this portrait, he tells us more about the concept of a bucket list and why learning those languages is part of his life’s goals.

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Il ministro o La ministra? The Feminine Form in Professional Job Titles

Posted on March 5, 2015 by

the feminine form of professional job titles

Little by little, women have secured professional roles that were previously unachievable. As important positions in government and society were once reserved for men, many languages never established a feminine form for certain job titles. How do languages adapt to this new reality? In the spirit  of International Women’s Day, we at Babbel – the app for easy language learning – have taken a close look at the feminine form of  professional job titles in several languages.

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Portrait: Aldo from Trieste

Posted on November 26, 2014 by

Portrait: Aldo from Trieste

We’re doing a series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives, and their reasons for learning a language. If you would like to share your story with us, please leave a comment below. This month we spoke with Aldo, a 70-year old man from Italy full of energy and motivation. Canoeing in the morning, chess in the afternoon, and now a new goal: learning English. (more…)

Tongue-twister challenge!

Posted on October 1, 2014 by

tongue-twister

When you’re learning a new language, tongue-twisters are a great way to practice your pronunciation. Tongue-twisters are sentences or series of words that are hard to say. They often have similar alternating sounds, like ‘s’ and ‘sh’ or ‘p’ and ‘b’. Although they are typically nonsense, the English classic “She sells sea shells on the sea shore, and the shells that she sells are sea shells, I’m sure” was actually a popular song in 1908 based on the life of Mary Anning, a famous British fossil hunter and collector.

To celebrate the release of our Swedish tongue-twisters course, we’ve selected eight tongue-twisters in different languages – English, German, Italian, French, Danish, Swedish, Turkish and Russian – and turned them into short animations. Can you master them? (more…)

The way to languages is through your stomach – new course around the Italian cuisine!

Posted on June 24, 2013 by

Read this post in German (Deutsch), French (Français)

I’m from Parma. You know. The ham. The cheese.

Whenever I try to explain how “it’s in the north of Italy, about halfway between Milan and Bologna,” whomever I’m talking to immediately interrupts and starts up about Parma ham and parmesan cheese. Though not without reason.

My area is known throughout Italy for its cold cuts. For us, the pig borders on sacred: in the dialects maiale (pig) has about as many names as there are communities. In my grandma’s village they even call it al nimal (l’animale)—simply, “the animal.” As they say, fish have no word for water…

The idea to make an Italian food course came out of experiences I had with a German friend of mine. I had always cooked Italian dishes, such as scaloppini ai Funghi—a cutlet fried in butter with mushrooms. And then would come the inevitable question: “isn’t there something to go with it?“ Go with it??? What did he think the mushrooms were? “No, I mean the side dish“ Ah. The side dish. And then he slapped down some rice as a … side dish. Any self-respecting Italian would’ve then, depending on mood, burst out laughing or turned her nose up in disgust!

First of all, rice is a first course and can never, ever be served with a second course. Sacrilege!

Secondly, what “goes with” the meal in Italian is called a contorno and basta. You can eat bread… but bread is bread, it’s not a contorno.

So far so clear.

There had never been a course like this before on Babbel—so it was an entirely new concept. I had free reign—but no model. The hardest part, actually, ended up being the image search.

Sure, finding pictures of Italian food sounds easy, but what about when you’ve passed over the line from “whatever pasta with whatever sauce” to, for example, parpadelle (flat, wide pasta) with wild boar ragout? Then you must move slowly toward the stove yourself….

And so it happened I was still frying after midnight (I hate frying!) because I couldn’t find any pictures for the Ligurian dish latte dolce fritto. I had the pleasure of being able to cook dishes from my region, such as erbazzone (spinach and chard pie), which was eaten the next day in the office, or piadina con salsiccia e cipolle (pan-flatbread with Italian sausage and onion).

Unfortunately I was also unable to find good photos for a lot of the cold cuts. So when I was in Parma I was FORCED to buy speck (smoked ham), prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) and coppa (dry-cured pork neck) … and eat them. The things we do for work!

In this course you find out about genuine dishes from various regions in Italy. There’s lots of info about how they’re made as well as what is NOT typically Italian. Here’s an example for you: spaghetti alla Bolognese—a typical Italian dish? You can of course also eat spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, but any Italian would be embarrassed at the prospect. That kind of sauce comes from Bologna, and there, egg noodles like tagliatelle or lasagna are the typical ones. So the dish is actually tagliatelle alla bolognese.

Have I destroyed a myth? Try out the course and get to know lots of other exciting insider tips about Italian cuisine!

About the author: Around five years ago, Barbara Baisi, Italian translator and Finnish studies specialist, started in content and support (at that time still as a student). As of this year, she’s an integral and essential part of our content team at Babbel.